24 April 2009

Business Sunday launched to connect with business life

As the recession continues to dig in its heels, the Methodist Church is pioneering ways to bridge the gap between work and place of worship.

May 3 will see the first Business Sunday, a day when leaders of Methodist services will be encouraged to connect their sermons with the whole world of work.

Business Sunday was an idea instigated by Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, David Walton, following an ethical business consultation at the Martin Luther King Centre in Manchester in October. The date May 3 was chosen because of its proximity to Labour Day and Rogation Sunday; two festivals which remember the joys and trials of working life.

David, who is a partner of a solicitors' firm in Manchester, said: "In all the discussions I have been having with people all over the country, there has been a significant concern that we are not spending enough time making the link between our faith and our working lives. We often include doctors and teachers in our prayers, but we don't pray for the entrepreneurs, estate agents, accountants or people working in industry and commerce generally.

"Business Sunday is part of an initiative to support and encourage those people. The emphasis is not on creating yet another special Sunday in the calendar every year, but on having worship and study material available to help leaders support and value those in their congregations who are often facing tough decisions and ethical dilemmas in their working lives."

There are 150 Methodist workplace chaplains working with people in industry and commerce, from Bluewater Shopping Centre through to Asda. Rev Rob Jones, Chaplaincies Coordinator, said: "We pray for teachers and health workers, but when do we pray for people working on the shop floor of a car manufacturer? We don't, on the whole, we don't see the faith link, but in actual fact these people carry their faith into the work place in a vigorous and often a very creative way and we want to support them in what they do."

Resources, including service plans, will be available from today on the Methodist Church website. A Facebook-styled website aimed at fostering a network of support for like-minded people is in development.

The idea follows on from the work of former Vice President John Bell who, as a former director of Philips, encouraged churches to engage actively with business life. David will be at a meeting of 70 Methodist local lay preachers and worship leaders in Bolton on May 3 for the launch of Business Sunday.

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